Warriors

What to monitor in Dubs' tough stretch vs. Bulls, Hornets, Nets

Warriors
Wiggins and Poole

The Warriors have an NBA-best 10-1 record and have won six consecutive games. But is their dominance legitimate?

This is the question that's been surrounding the Warriors as they've torn through their eight-game homestand. The Warriors will be the first to admit that their schedule has been highly favorable. Coach Steve Kerr said it. Andre Iguodala said it. Steph Curry said it. 

Over the last nine games, the Warriors have faced just one team that made it to the NBA playoffs last season, and that game ended up with Curry dropping 50 points and Golden State blowing out the Atlanta Hawks. So, no matter who they've played, it's clear that the Warriors are good. But just how good they are is the next thing to figure out. And their upcoming stretch will surely shed some light on that. 

On Friday night at Chase Center, the Warriors host the Chicago Bulls, who are currently second in the Eastern Conference with an 8-3 record. Then, Golden State heads East for their first road trip of the season where they will face the Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets. 

As the Warriors go up against some tougher opponents, here are a few areas to monitor that will help tell how good this team actually is:

 

The defense

As of Thursday afternoon, the Warriors have the No. 1 defensive rating in the NBA at 99.2. For the Warriors to have a sub-100 defensive rating at the pace they play at is impressive. But considering they've been going up against weaker teams, how real is it?

When you get to tougher opponents, the Warriors' size, or lack thereof, could be an issue. Not having faced a Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid or another lethal big man in the middle yet leaves room to wonder how Golden State would handle that. 

Another defensive area to monitor is how the Warriors will handle teams that can play inside out. Because the Warriors have to scramble and crowd and double-team, if the ball goes inside to someone, and then is kicked out for a 3-pointer, does that open the floor and can the Warriors cover that much ground?

The Warriors undoubtedly have a good defense. But, is it the best in the league?

Andrew Wiggins' aggression

Wiggins' 35-point outburst against the Minnesota Timberwolves was a taste of the player the Warriors need every night. Not necessarily the high-scoring volume, but the aggression and assertiveness he played with. 

So far this season, Wiggins' stat lines have been solid. But for the most part, he's gotten them while being passive. He needs to remain active.

Wiggins wasn't afraid to attack the rim -- one of his best skills -- and absorbed contact when there was a body in front of him. When he decided to shoot, it wasn't because he didn't want to take the ball inside, but because it was the best basketball decision to make. This decisiveness had been lacking until Wednesday night.

After the game, Wiggins said he knows he needs to say aggressive. Kerr also said he needs to keep putting Wiggins in positions to be aggressive. 

How they do this moving forward will be key. 

Rebounding and turnovers

Unlike a year ago, the Warriors are a good rebounding team right now. It's one of the reasons why they have such a good defensive rating. 

If the Warriors are going to be successful against tougher competition, rebounding will be key. As soon as the other team gets second-chance points, that is where things will fall apart. 

In addition to limiting second-chance points, the Warriors have to keep their turnovers down. 

Most of the time, the Warriors' high turnover numbers are because they get too loose and chaotic with the ball. In the past, they've been able to lock in against top opponents, so even if they lose it's not because they gave the game away. 

They've been good at that the last few games, but, the Warriors have been playing against weaker defensive teams who also can't take advantage of Golden State when they get out of control. Their upcoming opponents won't let them be so lucky. 

Jordan Poole's production

Poole has been a little up and down so far this season. And that's to be expected as he finds his footing as a rising star in the NBA. 

 

What will be important to monitor coming up is how he responds to really good teams -- the teams that will make him earn what he does. He can't be frivolous with his shots.

RELATED: Poole gets first public taste of The Draymond Experience

Poole's point total during the upcoming games won't be a clear depiction of his success level. It's going to be more about his net rating, and overall decision-making on the court.

How he handles the pressure will be more telling about where he is at, versus the number of points he scores. 

The bench's success

So far, the Warriors have played extremely well in the non-Curry minutes. So much so that he's been sitting for chunks of the first and third quarter. 

Will Golden State be able to keep this up against better teams?

Guys such as Nemanja Bjelica, Otto Porter Jr., Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Iguodala make up a very talented and deep bench. However, up until this point, they have been going up against shorter and lighter second units. 

What will happen when they face equally deep and talented benches will be very telling as to how good the Warriors' depth actually is. 

Can they provide enough where at the end of the day you can say, "when Curry sits, they are still capable of being competitive and scoring?"

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